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Friends » Blogging AS an Aspie
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Matt has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is writing this blog so that people can gain more of an insight into how people with the condition process thoughts, feel emotions, react to situations and generally handle life.
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23 Dec 08 Yesterday

Yesterday was a ‘funny day’ for me. I met a friend, who I’m still not supposed to be meeting, then I did 5 hours volunteering, which was absolutely manic (no pun intended), and then went back home. I got an email from my friend, well, she doesn’t consider me a friend.

Let’s start from the beginning. As usual to get to Sunderland from where I’m staying, I got the bus, and it passes through where I used to live. An old man got on board and was walking to the seat opposite me when the bus pulled away. Naturally he stumbled and fell forward towards me, he put his hands out to protect him, and I quickly braced myself to prepare to “control a fall”, with my hands aiming to help brace his arms. As he sat down on his seat, I was totally shocked to hear him say, “I wasn’t being funny or anything there!” Why has the world come to an old man assuming that a teenage lad would think he was trying it on?

Then, I gets to Sunderland, and went off to meet my mate. Bless her, she had bought me a lovely present at very short notice, despite me constantly telling her not to! Thanks! And she adored the necklace and earrings that I bought her. We only had 10 minutes as she had a couple of more presents to buy, and I was due out volunteering.

So, on I go to volunteer, where the service users are getting their Christmas Meal today, and there is also a pool, darts & dominoes competition. Most of the staff & volunteers are working in the kitchen and dining room, and the drop-in supervisor is running the competitions. Leaving me and a new volunteer to run the counter.

Normally the counter is an easy job, and I love it. We make tea, coffee, and chat with service users. Usually I get to read my books and magazines… Today was different, after an initially slow start. Once things got going, I was sitting down for about 1 minute at a time before more people wanted serving, and with the supervisor constantly being called downstairs or having other jobs to do, I ended up as acting-supervisor quite often! At one point, I was the only person in the drop-in, never once away from the boiler!

But that’s all part of the fun, and I don’t mind giving up my time to help out. In fact, I’ll probably be doing New Year’s Eve if they need any volunteers to come in and help out! Hopefully it’ll be a little quieter.

Then, I gets home, have some food, and relax in front of my laptop, as is normal for the holiday time. I’d sent an email to my friend on Sunday night, as she hadn’t been talking to me, and I was wondering why. To be quite honest, I wasn’t expecting her to reply at all. I’d sent her a lovely present by recorded delivery, and also a poem which makes my feelings for her rather clear – I pretty much managed to say “I love you” without using that exact phrase.

At around 11pm, I saw an email flash up from her, so immediately clicked on it. She told me that she no longer considers me to be a friend, I probably don’t know the reason we’re not talking (possibly because she hasn’t told me?), doesn’t feel the same way at all, and can’t cope with me anymore. Once again, this girl had me in tears, although this time with very good reason, because somehow I’d ruined things again.

25 Nov 08 Self-control

Against even my own belief, I am proving that I actually have some self-control. For once, I think I can avoid getting myself into what I know would be a stupid and bad argument.

The trouble is, the reason for this new-found self-control isn’t a one that is “easily-transferred”. Once again, I find myself making the right choice because of one person in particular. And it’s that one person that I’ve blogged about at different times of the year, including my self-control at her birthday party.

This time, I’ve just been looking around Facebook, as you do, and my news feed showed some ‘Recently tagged photos’ of my friend; being a nosey sod that I undoubtebly am, I clicked the link and started to look at some of them. Initially, I made a couple of comments, one was in response to another one of her friends. But then, almost immediately, he replied with something that kinda incensed me a little bit.

I don’t know why it did. Actually, I do know why it did, and it stems from a combination of two things: my respect for my friend, and how much I care about her. Ok, so there is a third factor, but I can’t post it on here, I barely admit that factor to myself… So, I went straight for the keypad of my phone to type a response, and started a few words, but then froze. I actually managed to put in place the main strategy everybody around me has been trying to get me to do: STOP, think, act.

My thoughts then centered not on me, my comment, or what I was replying to, but immediately on my friend, and her feelings. I couldn’t post, I just couldn’t; it would most likely end up upsetting her. And that, I think, is something I keep trying to “protect her from”. That sounds bad – God only knows how much I complain about people doing that to me – except I don’t actually do much, or interfere. I’m just there, someone she can talk to, or someone who’ll ask her a couple of questions if I think she’s aiming straight down a path that will only lead to her being hurt.

I just wish I knew why my thoughts were the way they are. I really do, it’s so hard to figure out for most teenage lads, but it’s harder again for me. I’m confused, and right now, I don’t even think that Thought Process Analysis will do much other than end up in an infinite loop!

Well, now just to smile, be happy I didn’t do anything, and try and relax…

20 Oct 08 Choosing to stay sober

I was at an 18th birthday party on Saturday night, and surprised both myself and everybody who knows me by staying sober for the whole night. But why did I choose to do so?

A few reasons, some background, but one main one. Firstly, I worked an outdoor bank holiday event in August, where alcohol was flowing freely; and despite working and not drinking any of it; I really had a good time. At this event, I also learnt a lot about what can go wrong, and how stupid people really can be when it comes to consuming alcohol.

Secondly, the last 18th birthday party I went to didn’t quite go very well, and I almost ended up in serious trouble. Oops. I thought it might be best not to end up making the same mistakes. You know, as in ‘let’s prove I can actually be responsible’ type of thinking!

But the main reason had more to do with whose party I was at. You see, I have a tremendous amount of respect for my friend, and I also like her, as in really like her. Therefore, I didn’t want to put myself in the position where I’d do something stupid that I’d regret around her. I don’t know why, but she is the one girl who I really like, but somehow always seem to get things right whenever I’m with her.

For some reason, I seem to change my personality, and the flirtiness calms down. Weird, I know, especially considering that she’s currently single! I never think of doing anything other than hugging her, or simply being with her. Which unfortunately means I wasn’t quite expecting her reaction when she saw the necklace I bought her; she came at me, I expected her to hug me, and she tried to kiss me. Oops. Not the usual me – if it wasn’t her, I’d have most likely been the one initiating the kiss…

Also at this party, was her ex-boyfriend, who she’s said she does not ever want to go back out with, “too many times” being her favoured saying! Firstly, I figured my friend would be getting rather drunk and might just appreciate waking up and not regretting anything. Secondly, I’d had one conversation with him before, and didn’t want a similar one if I was drunk, I doubt if I could handle it well.

So, I stayed sober. Apart from her younger brother, I was the only sober person at the party. And it’s a good thing I’m a first aider, because 2 people passed out with drink, and 3 more were vomiting. Lovely. It does make me wonder why people let themselves get into that kind of state. I was also able to help my friend when she wanted 5 minutes alone in her room and her other friends were thinking it was best to sit with her. One simple, but semi-polite request later, my friend had the space she was asking for.

I really enjoyed the night, and thank my friend for inviting me. For once, I can walk away in the knowledge that I hadn’t done anything wrong at all!

01 Jun 08 Define “friendship”

An impossible concept for an Aspie, I have learnt from many different experiences. But we are not as alone as we may first imagine. I was amazed at how similar to the neurotypical we are when it comes to deciding what a friend is.

I was talking to my friend last Friday night, albeit for 5 hours, and during the course of the conversation, we talked about our times at middle & high school, and our times at college. She reflected on how she didn’t have many friends at middle school, and then we laughed together when I just said “And here’s me, the Aspie, thinking I had the social difficulties” This moved on to high school, where she had found some good friends, through “forced situations” such as being in tutorial groups that you stick with for most of the day. Again, I shared similar experiences, certainly with my second tutorial group at that school, and also in the science classes, where the groups were together a lot of the time. We could both say how ‘easy’ it was to make friends from the group, and how we just knew they were friends.

But then we moved on to each other, and how we met at college. She didn’t know if I was a friend because she had never been in the situation where she had to make her own friends in a “voluntary situation” like the busy life of college. I commented I didn’t know if she was a friend, because I’ve never been in the situation of having a proper friend, and my “lack of social interaction” makes it even harder.

After looking back at how we think of each other, and the interactions we have, we decided that we were friends, and probably close friends. She knows a lot about me and my life, and vice-versa. Its weird how we had to have a conversation to figure out we’d been friends for 6 months, though. I also mentioned that I used a discreet method to turn a “voluntary scenario” into a “forced scenario”, I used a little quiz, which I was struggling with to start conversations with people (name 10 Disney Classics with just one word in their title); by the end of an hour long lesson, I had the number of two of my classmates, who have both gone on to be considered good friends by me!

Anybody else have any similar experiences or thoughts?

27 May 08 Arguing

True to form, my holidays have started off in what is now their traditional way, an argument with my parents (from an Aspie perspective, one could argue that it is at least reassuring that some things never change and that there is a level of consistency). I can now pretty much guarantee that on the Saturday evening after I return home, there will be an argument relating to some aspect of “my behaviour” and “keeping me safe”.

But why am I in this state? Why do I always get myself in a state where I want to cry because of the arguments?

This time, it’s about meeting my friend, to help her revise. For some reason, I had it in my head that my Mum would be reasonable, and let me go and meet my friend to help her. But no, I was wrong. I told her after I got back from Newcastle that I had met this friend; the usual lecture began, an exact copy of what the service provider has been over-exaggerating. I was, as usual, reminded of the risks, that there is a strong possibility I could make my friend feel scared in my presence, that I could do something socially/sexually inappropriate, that I could ‘not conform to the unwritten rules of society’, or that my friend could accuse me of something. That last comment leads to the usual reminders, I could be branded a “rapist”, or a “paedophile”, that I could have allegations show up on a CRB, which would ruin my career ambition.

I was finding it difficult enough to trust the management of the service provider; considering I now no longer genuinely believe that I have a chance of a reasonable outcome when I ask for things to be considered. For my Mum to be taking the same approach really upsets me; I do not wish to not trust my Mum.

I text my friend after this argument, and she replied:

Wel I KNOW tht u wudnt do anything like that. and they shud too! [...] bt if its best then il just revise by myself, then u wnt hav ths shit

This made me happier. As far as I’m concerned, it proves one thing, that I can cope, and that I can cope quite well. All that matters to me is that she is ok with things. My main problem is that I’m in a ‘catch-22′ situation, I can’t prove I can cope being with her independently without going against my Mum’s wishes or service provider’s orders and thus getting myself into trouble.

I told my friend that I enjoy spending time with her, that the revision is something fun, worthwhile and sensible. I told her my feelings on what the adults around me are doing; that they are refusing to believe me (or listen in some cases), that I’m not going to let it bother me, and that it’s basically just crap what they’re doing.